Pope Francis asks people across the world to pray and fast today, Ash Wednesday, in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
From friar Antonio Moualeu’s 2021 Ash Wednesday reflection:
Just as the Son of God spent forty (40) days in the desert of creation with the goal of making it once more that garden of communion with God, Christians are invited to undertake a similar journey of preparation, from Ash Wednesday to sundown on Holy Thursday, that leads to true inner conversion of heart and renewal of life in Christ.
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!”
Isaiah 58:6-7, 9
Through prayer, fasting and giving alms, Christians acknowledge their need for God’s mercy, empty their hearts of vain desires, rediscover the joy and true happiness found in love of God and love of neighbor.